Raising Fish for Lake Ontario and surrounding streams
Created September 30, 2011 by Ettore
Ringwood Fish Hatchery Station – We ask For Your Help to Make it Work
Since September, 2006 the Ringwood Fish Culture Station in Stouffville has been operating through a unique partnership made up of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the Metro East Anglers (MEA), and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH). We, the MEA, as skilled, volunteer labour, have run the facility and have raised over 6 million Salmon and Trout fingerlings for stocking back into Lake Ontario and its surrounding rivers for the past 5 years!
Visit us at www.metroeastanglers.com for more information on our group's history and accomplishments.
Earlier this year the OFAH decided not to continue the partnership beyond September 28th, 2011. Together with their sponsors, the OFAH was the primary source of funding at Ringwood, allowing us, the unpaid, dedicated volunteers that make up the MEA, to operate the facility. With funding gone it looked like the Ringwood facility would be mothballed and closed, resulting in the loss of the continued tremendous opportunity for this useful asset for the communities surrounding Lake Ontario, and the environment.
In May 2011, we, the MEA, prepared a proposal to an agreeable MNR.
In a nutshell, the proposal means that the MEA would volunteer to operate Ringwood with a smaller fish production than under the original 5 year Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the MNR. In the original MOU we were responsible for almost 800,000 Salmon and Trout yearly! This included the entire Chinook Salmon Program for Lake Ontario and the Province of Ontario. This new program would be less expensive than previous successfully funded programs. The proposal’s main focus would be the Continuation of the Entire Coho Salmon Stocking Program for Lake Ontario. This represents about 60,000 to 80,000 yearling fish stocked directly into our local Greater Toronto Area watershed and into Lake Ontario.
Without this proposal, the Coho species would essentially be diminished without any proper facility available to raise them. Due to many factors, such as urban sprawl, there is little chance for natural reproduction around the GTA. The Coho Salmon would eventually die off and disappear from the lake.
The MNR cancelled COHO stocking in 2004. In 2006, the MEA lobbied the MNR to re-visit this program. They gratefully supported our request. However, with two years of stocking missed this meant the MEA faced years without a large enough Coho spawning run to secure the necessary quantities of viable eggs. It was only through extensive searching efforts to several Lake Ontario north shore tributaries that we were able to piece together enough eggs to restart the cycle. This fall these efforts paid off with the first notable returns of Coho into the Credit River in years. Today we are happy to report we have thousands of Coho returning to the Credit River to gather our required eggs from. However, we have seen firsthand how this can all change quickly if Coho are not supported.
We will also be raising 25 000 Brown Trout and 17 000 Rainbow Trout. All species are destined for stocking into local area streams and rivers.
The MNR has agreed in principle to the above production program for Ringwood. Exact financial responsibilities are currently in flux. We do however know that we, the MEA, need to raise around $50,000 per year through the support of our communities and funds, such as the AVIVA Community Fund, to continue.
The MEA has just received its patent, making us officially a “Not-For-Profit Incorporation”. We are now moving forward in the process of achieving Official Charitable Status. This is a slow Government process with no firm time estimate on completion. We anticipate the status will be achieved by year’s end. When this occurs we will be in a position to issue all significant donators/sponsors a Tax Receipt.
What we are looking for is a financial support from any and all interested members of our community. We hope to be able to put our budget house in order and just start concentrating on what we have always done best which is raising/stocking salmon and trout into our watershed.
The MEA is also involved in 4 Chinook Salmon pen projects around the Lake, from Scarborough to Darlington, and operates a Rainbow Trout fish ladder on the Rouge River. We also have various elementary schools come to our facility with their kids, to see our fish raising activities.
So your support will also be helping the MEA complete these projects as well. All of them are great public relation exposure events in conservation on the shores of Lake Ontario. We have a proven record with various organizations as a conscientious group of volunteers doing great work!
Thanks for your consideration on this matter.